Frequent testing, stricter cleaning procedures, and social distancing are part of a new set of production guidelines released Wednesday by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as the Empire State looks to resume shooting movies and television shows.
In March, productions and movie theaters shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, grinding one of the state’s top industries to a standstill and leaving thousands of people, from actors to directors to lighting technicians, out of work and without a paycheck. Productions such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” all call Gotham home. That ended last spring when New York City became the epicenter of the disease for several months. However, cases are on the decline and the city recently headed into phase two of reopening. Now. the state is looking forward to phase four which includes the reopening of the arts and entertainment industries. When the fourth phase begins is still uncertain.
In a detailed document released via the Governor’s website, soundstage and film productions have been instructed that any indoor facilities used for shooting must be at no more than 50% capacity. A safe distance of six feet between cast and crew will be required during production in common areas, trailers, meal areas and equipment areas. When working on hair and makeup, this may be more difficult. Performers, although urged to wear their masks, can temporarily remove them during rehearsals or shooting. Friends, family and visitors are prohibited from visiting sets. Scouting of film locations must take place virtually.
Some of these productions, particularly late night shows featuring Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert, usually take place in front of a live audience. However, this practice is remains prohibited.
When operating equipment on set, employees are urged to follow the cleaning and disinfecting measures provided by public health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Props, costumes and set materials must be disinfected between each use and stored in sealed containers. Hand sanitizer is mandatory in all locations, and the state recommends handing out pre-packaged containers to limit sharing.
All employees, cast and crew members must be screened for COVID-19 through a diagnostic test before coming in close contact with each other. These tests must be administered at least once a week. There must also be daily health screenings for each member of the teams, which will include questionnaires and temperature checks asking about potential coronavirus symptoms, positive tests and potential exposure over a 14-day time frame.